Retail Vs. Office Space

Hi all,

I would like to poll everyone on their opinion Re: opening a shop in
an office building.

I am considering a repair shop, both trade and walk-in (retail).
This would be a one-person shop.

I live in a fourth-tier suburb. I am aware of no one doing this
(office space) out here. I am aware of one trade shop in an
industrial area. In the cities downtown area, there are many
jewelers in office spaces, clustered within a couple of traditional
old office buildings.

The biggest obvious differences are these: little-to-no walk-in
traffic in office buildings as compared to retail spaces; and, the
office space is probably around 1/3 to 1/4 the cost of retail
spaces. Another thing, it’s difficult to find retail (outside of a
large metro area) that is small enough - the typical strip mall
store is around 1200 sq. ft. I would only need around 500 sq. ft.

As a separate opinion entirely, I would like to hear the
conventional wisdom these days of opening a retail repair shop at
all. It’s usually been considered a poor option as a business start
for goldsmiths. But I wonder with the changing landscape in the
jewelry industry, has that changed?


I just made the transition from a home-based one-man trade shop to a
retail space three years ago. There are moments I miss the old spare
bedroom shop, but overall it was the right thing for me to do.

If your intention is to be a one-man retail shop, here are a few
things to consider. First, you must be honest with yourself about how
you deal with interruptions. If you can work twelve hours straight,
stop whatever you are doing, including pushing the third prong on a
four prong emerald cut emerald, get up, be friendly for half an hour
to someone who is being slightly difficult, sit back down, pick up
your prong pusher and hear the phone ring and still be able to smile,
you might do well in a retail situation. If you can’t, think real
hard about doing it by yourself or about doing retail at all. This
will be your life if you become successful. There is also one heck of
a lot more to do than just working the bench and waiting on
customers. Most of it, like paying bills and waiting on hold for your
merchant account rep, doesn’t pay very well, either. Retail isn’t
for everyone, and doing it by yourself is a monumental task.

If you intend to do both wholesale and retail, you must consider how
you are going to let retail customers know who and where you are.
This isn’t like baseball. Just because you build it doesn’t mean they
will come, even if you get a well placed retail space. If you decide
to advertise, remember that you will be competing with your wholesale
clients. That will not endear them to you.

Another thing to consider; maybe there is a reason why there is no
one doing office space retail in the area you are looking at. Don’t
just assume it’s a wide open market. Believe me, if it is a wide open
dream come true, someone else would already be there. For office
space retail, it would probably be better for you if there were other
people there already. There are sound reasons for them to all bunch

You didn’t say where you heard that it isn’t a good idea to start a
retail jewelry business by doing repair work, but I couldn’t disagree
more. Doing on-premises repair work may be the only edge you will
have over your competition. It’s no small advantage either. People
like to talk to the person who is repairing their jewelry. Many
customers, especially the most savvy ones, will bring in a small
repair or even a difficult pain in the neck kind of job just to check
you out and see how you are going to do before they will trust you
with a major custom job or a big sale. One of the best ways for you
to build trust and a strong reputation in the retail jewelry business
is by doing fairly priced, quality repairs in a timely manner.

If you decide to do either one of your stated options, be sure you
don’t need any income from it for a minimum of two or three years,
more likely five. You won’t have any. Every dime you make will be
spent on tools, metal, stones, rent, insurance and twenty other
things you haven’t even thought of yet. One person can only do so
much, there are only so many hours in a day and everyone will want a
piece of the action. The jewelry business is an all consuming, money
hungry, wallet vampire seductress. It will bleed you dry if you
aren’t careful. You have to want it more than hot food or sleep or
family time. Those will become luxuries. Three day weekends will
become only a distant memory. But if you can deal with all of the
hardships, the rewards can be great. It’s worth the effort if you’re
up to it.

Good wishes for your venture.

I knew of several repair shops-trade/retail both, in offices, over
the years in the Indianapolis area, and all seemed pretty busy for a
number of years that I lived there. I even did tradework for a guy
that did very high end retail from his home-appoinment only.

As far as retail repair shops, its probably the portion of this
business that someone can get a new start. Inventory costs for full
blown jewelry stores have become considerably more difficult for the
startup. Whereas, inventory costs for a repair shop are drastically
lower, plus with places like stuller shipping parts faster than I can
get to the jobs, who needs to keep a huge inventory on hand.

With the current precious metals landscape, I believe folks will
tend to hang on and repair existing pieces a little longer. In
addition, more and more people are walking in my door every single
day, selling jewelry they cant afford to keep or repair. There’s
always profits to be made, ya just gotta be willing to go after them.
Scrapping is not my fav thing to do but it sure does make it alot
easier to do the things that are my favs.


In my day job, I manage a million square foot business park that
houses approximately 100 companies.

In addition to whether YOU want to be in an office building, there
are issues of whether the landlord or the zoning code will allow your
"use" to be in an office building. Either or both could potentially
prevent you from using the space as a retail repair shop. Of the two,
the landlord will give you a quicker answer. The landlord might view
a retail repair shop as “use” that is incompatible with the rest of
his tenants or he might be ok with it. If the landlord is ok with the
"use", you (or the landlord) will need to find out if your, “use” is
allowed his building’s zoning. A call to the city planning department
will get that answer.

Good luck.
Mitch Adams

If you already have a loyal following you might be ok in a
non-retail space. But then again, if you are serving them now, why
add the cost of a space? It’d be some time before word gets around to
the general public where you are and what you offer. Someone pointed
out zoning, if you get around that be certain that the building has
tenants or visitors compatible with what you want to be doing.

Yeah retail space tends to be bigger and more $ than you’d like.
Maybe you could team up with another craftsperson and split the
rental of a suitable retail space. Like a tailor. I have a tailor and
shoemaker as neighbors and they generate some traffic, let me tell

I would like to hear the conventional wisdom these days of opening
a retail repair shop at all. It's usually been considered a poor
option as a business start for goldsmiths 

I think its an excellent option to start with repairs. Costs are
low, demand is high. You can easily enough transition to having an
inventory of ready to wear as traffic builds. Repairs become bread
and butter, sales are gravy…pure gravy if you handle it right.

Have you considered a repair franchise? More costly but you have the
franchise behind you. If you look at some threads lately about how
business is you’ll find that service oriented jewelers(be it repair
or custom) seem to be either holding their own or doing very well.
With the economy mumbling the R word, that ain’t half bad.